tv America Tonight Al Jazeera October 18, 2013 9:00pm-9:31pm EDT
>> welcome back to aljazeera america, i'm john in new york. and here are the top stories. many americans are having trouble enrolling with the government's healthcare exchanges and exchanging data with the website. house republicans are investigating the problems with the healthcare program. travel was a problem with oakland in the bay area. rapid transit trains left 200,000 riders stranded for their daily commutes. union employees walked off the job at mid. this is the second time this year that the nation's fifth largest rail system has shut down. 80,000 syrian refugees in
lebron james could be ouin -- in the cold. the u.s. is donating an additional $100 million in aid. those are the headlines at this hour, and america tonight is up next, and i'm john, and i'll be back here. and you can get the latest news online at aljazeera.com. see you at 11:00. >> on america tonight, the stumbling start. glitchy websites, frustrated sign-ups, and eve without the tea party is obama headed for
failure? >> i'm seeing the button for eligibility results, and i can't get past that button right now. >> also tonight, the return of the native, where the buffalo roam once again. >> it pulls at my heart. >> and how is the weather up there? climate science takes wing in an airborne lab. good evening, and thanks for being with us. if you thought reopening the government and not bumping our heads on the debt ceiling was the end of it, think again. because almost as soon as the president signed off on that
deal, the tea party activists put obamacare on the table. what's not helpful to the healthcare act has been the website has been nothing but disastrous. looking at the early returns on obamacare enrollment and by considering a few faulty clicks could doom its future. clicking away in the background over the 16 days of shutdown, the start of enrollment in the affordable care act centerpiece, the online marketplace for healthcare coverage. government aims to get 7 million people to buy insurance through the exchanges, and interest in the website through healthcare.gov was high, but they won't say how many have signed up. and opponents have quickly moved in to condemn obamacare as a failure already. >> what i continue to do is continue standing with the american people to stop
obamacare because it's not work, it's costing jobs and taking away healthcare. >> 36 states signed on with the federal exchanges, but 15 states opened their own healthcare exchanges, using other software. working out bugs, and the goal of signing up 1 million in the first year. >> use the thursday and -- the numbers, and when you do the shop and compare, you realize this is going to be good. >> reporter: oregon had trouble with its online service but found a fast track work around. and by this week, oregon reported 56,000 sign-ups, cutting the state's uninsured
rate by 10%. but in states like georgia, which pushed back against federal support, would be applicants face a frustrating process. >> i am fully registered and i see a button which says eligibility results and i can't get past that. >> reporter: do you have any assistance in the process? >> in reality, no. >> reporter: beyond that, the obama administration has acknowledged that healthcare.gov has been full of glitches, and crashes, but will the technological tripup drive people away from obamacare? >> progress is being made and people are enrolling across the country. >> >> reporter: so we have all had trouble trying to order or sign up for something online. but why is it so crucial for
obamacare, and why is it so difficult so far? tonight's digital producer is with us, and also, luke chung of ms, inc. so we have emphasized how important it is for young, digitally savvy people to enroll because obamacare requires a lot of young, healthy pem in the system. >> they matter to the extent that the obama administration has sold the plan on its website in such a politically charged climate with the opponents so vociferous about it, they will see flaws in order to fight it. so it matters in that reflect, but you can take a look back down the line and whether or not this will doom it. and one of the things that many defenders much the law point to,
medicare part d, online shopping for prescription drugs for seniors. at the time it was launched, it was a disaster, and they hated it. but today, the polls say that 90% of the seniors like it. and the second fact, and i know many people feel this way, when websites launch and are designed, people hate them. and they may be legitimate and may not be legitimate flaws, but over time, those change. and there's that hope down the line. >> but in this case, your company is in the business of building online databases as well. and you understand this process, and how bad is it? >> it's pretty bad. it's written as if it were created by people who have never created a commercial database before. >> what's the problem with it. >> there are crasses, and then there are ways of crashes and reasons for crashes.
people would expect legitimate crashes on the first day. but to ship something on the first day with typos, grammatical errors, and instructions not clear, it's a bad design and bad review. >> you tried to register yourselfing and how far did you get? >> well, i went in on the first day because i was excited about getting a quote for my family. i own a small business, and i pay for insurance for myself and my family. so i wanted to compare the price i'm paying, currently, which is unsubsidized. so i went online and tried it. and i was shocked by the process. i could just tell, as soon as i started it, that it was asking for too many questions for me to browse, to understand what my options were. >> this is one of the issues that has been raised. that the registration process is
different than saying buying clothes and then giving me the credit card. >> it's the opposite in this case, people have to create a membership profile before they can go ahead and shop. >> and you get a lot of data in that. >> a lot of very sensitive data. personally identifiable information, which is considered very personal. social security numbers, date of birth, not just for yourself, but for everybody in your family. >> why would the government asking you to do that? >> it seems that the people who design the system assume that people would go into the process and put in all of this information, see their options and buy it, all in one big transaction, and that's unbelievable. >> and it raises suspicion among users when you're asked questions, or in this case, the reports that they have been responding to. i have to fill out exactly what my relationship is to this member of my family or to that member of my family. and in many ways, i think in
this sort of environment where people feel like giving their data can be montised and used in other ways, they get suspicious, even if that's not the case. >> well, we have been discouraged to give away our social security number online. or giving away too much information, but you said they were thinking that this was going to be more specific, luke's plan, if you gave all of the details up front. >> i think that they wanted to have the information to calculate the exact subsidy that you would be eligible for. >> is this what leads to the bulkiness? >> absolutely, because it requires more band width for the servers to gather that and process it. >> but how long would that take and how costly would this be? >> that's the unbelievable part of this. they spent hundreds of millions
of dollars to build this, and this system is not healthcare. it doesn't even provide health insurance. this system just replicates a paper form into a computer system that gives you the ability to apply for healthcare. >> hopefully we'll look at this as a beta test as it continues. thank you very much for both of you. after the break, we'll go out to america's great plains, and then we'll be seeing great beasts returning to the black hills and the bad lands where the bison got back.
>> just a few weeks ago, i saw the bad lands of south dakota and i did what anyone would do, stopped and took a photo on my phone. the bison returning to the great plains, but the bison has a difficult history. it was hunted almost to extinction, and we sent cristo the black hills and how the bison found it's way home. >> reporter: in the black hills of south dakota, these
cowboys and girls are preparing for work the way they did a century ago. >> lord, we ask that no harm come to man or beast. >> reporter: but the dawn light reveals a thoroughly modern caravan winding through the valley. here at custer state park, the crowds are coming, braving a damp, bone chilling wind, to experience the kind of spectacle most americans have only seen in the movies. >> this is probably as close to the old west as you're going to get. >> reporter: for 43 years, cowboy, bob landis, has worked the roundup of a buffalo herd that works the range, though it's he's was slaughtered nearly to existence. a wild herd of more than 1200 plains bison, big and tough, weighing as much as 2,000
pounds. their lineage stretches back tens of thousands of years before history was written. >> as long as i can ride a horse i'm going to be here. >> >> reporter: 14,000 visitors from all over the world come to watch. the family from florida arrive with their three children, they're on a year-round trip around the country. >> i just love to bring the kids out here and to experience the natural history and see the things that we have read about. >> reporter: for the three cougar children, the buffalo are more than the speck of history lesson. >> i think it's pretty amazing, but just to see it at all is really cool. >> and for mary ann edinger, proud of her lakota sioux heritage. >> it's something about it that pulls at my heart.
>> and soon over the ridge top, the first buffalo break the horizon. barely visible at first, but then the whips crack. and the cowboys holler the way they always have. >> get up there. get up there. and the vast, empty plains, come to life. shaking from the thundering hooves. a sound so ominous that it terrifies a herd of wild elk and sends them scattering to safety. if the scene seems familiar, it's because these very buffalo were in the hollywood classic, how the west was won.
and for these modern cowboys, even with modern help, trying to herd the native buffalo on their native turf, and not always getting in their way was a heart pounding thrill. buffalo are fierce and fast, able to outrun a horse or man in short bursts. this was terry sorensen's first time in the roundup. >roundup. >> reporter: when you're out there in the herd, what's it like? >> very exciting, racing along. wind flying and buffalo and everything like that. it was a lot of fun. >> reporter: after participating in 40 roundups, bob landis knows why the crowds have grown from a few hundred to a few thousand spectators. >> cracking the whips and yelling, you get into it. and they're rooting, i think basically for the buffalo.
>> reporter: and it's no wonder that crowds today root for the buffalo, considering its tortured past in this country. the buffalo here are direct descendents of five wild calves, rescued by a rancher in 1963. they were this close to extinction. a combination of agreed and government policy nearly wiped out these magnificent creatures. in nearby rapid city, we found a museum dedicated to telling that terrible tale inside, founder, susan reeky showed us a photograph of buffalo skulls piled several stories high. >> reporter: what are we seeing? >> it's a stunning picture that demonstrates perfectly the massacre. >> >> reporter: a massacre of millions, over just a few
decades, slaughtered by trappers and tourists and hunters, often with the support of the u.s. government. >> reporter: as the railroad fortunatelied it's way west and the settlers began to flood the plain, the bison were, in essence, in the way. so they were shot and ex exterminated to make way for western settlements. >> reporter: the railroad promoted buffalo shooting excursions, where bison were slaughtered not for meat or hides, but for sport >> reporter: it's made out to be a glorious event, sporting and it's so exciting in the american west, shooting these large animals, and this was nothing sporting about it. >> reporter: then the army hired hunters to kill millions more, and the indians fende depd on the buffalo for food and clothing.
they urged hunters, send them powder and lead forsake of lasting peace, and let them kill until the buffaloes are ex exterminated >> reporter: the buffalo hunters and more than an entire army of soldiers could have done by getting the indians to go onto the reservation, and that was by killing off their food source. >> reporter: as many as 60 million buffaloes roamed north america, and by the 1880s, only a few survived. the plains were silent and empty. a death wend, a death wind for my people. >> it's a tragedy. can you read the accounts, and you can see pictures of thousands upon thousands of buffalo skulls stacked high at the skinning yards, and to know that they were slaughtered just for their tongues or hides or
just for pleasure. i don't like it, it makes me angry. >> it was a shame. it's something that we should be ashamed of, though we're not that generation, we should be ashamed that human beings did this to the buffalo. >> reporter: but slowly but surely, thanks to carefully management, the buffalo are coming back. at custer state park, the herd has grown, so it must be cold every year. the buffalo inspected and inoculated against infectious diseases, and then branded. so the animals can be tracked over time. craig pugsly helps to coordinate t. >> for us, it's management. we would do the roundup whether somebody showed up or not. we bring in the herd and we
brand the calves, and we cut out the ones this we're going to sell in the fall auction. >> reporter: so the roundup is more than a spectator sport. it's a way to protect the buffalo, and that's why bob landis has volunteered over four decades. >> reporter: how long are you going to keep riding here? >> until the day i die. my goal is to be riding along and hit the ground dead as i fall off my horse >> reporter: chasing a buffalo? >> chasing a buffalo. >> >> reporter: now it has taken 100 years until the species is no longer in danger. a vivid reminder of what the country was so close to losing, and how the enduring symbol of the west prevailed in spite of a scandalous past. >> perfect, just ahead on
>> finally tonight, a ride you won't soon forget. at least we won't. bill taurus took a ride with nasa scientists to took a ride over the united states, not to explore deep space, but our own atmosphere. as he found out, it takes a lot of guts to travel like this. >> reporter: from a distance, our plane looks like any other, but close up, anything but. i'm minutes away from boarding this plane with a bunch of nasa experiment lifts. this is a nasa dc8, with 20
different instruments on the outside, all trying to measure the pollution and the atmosphere. it's a three pronged attack. nasa launches a learjet and an er2, modeled after the spy plane. the men and women are learning more about climate change and the role that humans play in it. 9 a.m., everyone seated, and it's wheels up. we're flying right into clouds and storms. it's a bumpy ride with lots of turbulence. >> it looks like the clouds are up ahead. >> reporter: we just took off an hour ago, and the scientists went right to work.
all sorts of instruments that are doing some incredible science. we have several missions for today. one of the first things we're doing is flying over the gulf of mexico. and there, we're going to be testing convection in the clouds and pollution. another thing that makes this different, the passengers are in charge. >> what we would like to do is go to the west of that. >> reporter: they tell the crew where they want to go, and what altitude, sometimes flying over an area several times. >> we can fly a structure and repeatedly fly over it manly, and get to know on a manual level and a broad area of ground what's happening. >> >> reporter: we're flying right into clouds and are storms, it's a bumpy ride with lots of turbulence. >> all right, everybody, looks like some clouds. >> there are little puffy clouds around it.
>> reporter: the first person to catch our attention is principle investigator, jack dib. >> there's a specially designed inlet where there's a small hole that ex stands through the wall of the airplane. >> reporter: what are you collecting. >> we're collecting any particle that's bigger than 5 microns. >> reporter: what's that? >> we're measuring the ions in those particles, so they tell us about pollution or sea salt and dust. >> >> reporter: and he doesn't like what he's finding the results that you get, does it make you concerned about the future of our planet. >> i'm not hugely optimistic. >> i'm seeing a lot here. >> >> reporter: nasa research scientist measures down to the earth.
and it measures gases and gets immediate results. >> so what are you're seeing >> reporter: take a closer look. purple is the lotest intensity, and it gradually increase was green, blue and red. dark red is the highest intensity of the gases >> reporter: so what have we learned about the climate change, is it something that we should be worried about? >> ited started very high. change is unprecedented. >> you can hear the results and from scientists onboard on this night's techno. that's sunday evening at 7:30 eastern. that's it for us on aljazeera america this friday. log onto the website. you can meet our team and get previews of stories we're working on and what you want to see in the nightly current affairs. and join us in the conversation on facebook. we'll have more america tonight
tomorrow. >> every summer in america, a force of nature becomes a man-made disaster. some call it a war, millions of acres, billions of dollars. no end in sight. >> in this episode of fault lines, we follow the 2013 wildfire season and ask - with more homes than ever now under threat, what are the real costs of putting them out? >> the fire took a breath and we got our foot on the throat of it and we're going to keep choking it out.
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